A quintessential part of the autumn season, the pumpkin represents the bountiful harvest of Thanksgiving as well as the spooky visage of the Jack O’ Lantern during Halloween. Native to North America and a member of the winter squash family (though it is technically a berry), the pumpkin is so much more than pie filling.
From flesh to seed to shell, the Cucurbita pepo is an incredibly versatile fruit. These are our favorite ways to ensure no part of this amazing autumn staple goes to waste:
Low in calories and teeming with nutrients, the firmer insides closest to the exterior shell of the pumpkin is called the pulp or flesh. It’s high in fiber, vitamins A, C, and E, and is a good source of riboflavin, niacin, folate, potassium, manganese, and copper. Taste-wise, pumpkin pulp is quite mild and can be added to soups, stews, chilli, pasta sauce, and hummus without affecting the original flavoring. But before you start eating the pulp, it will first need to be made into pumpkin purée.
How to Make Pumpkin Purée:
Although you can make pumpkin purée from any type of pumpkin, the best kind of pumpkin to use for cooking and baking is the sugar pumpkin. It’s much smaller than the large, decorative pumpkins used for carving around Halloween. At only 6 to 8 inches in diameter, sugar pumpkins have a firmer, smoother, and sweeter flesh, and are much easier to handle than the huge varieties.
Prep the pumpkin for baking by first cutting off the stem. Using a sharp knife and little muscle power, cut the pumpkin in half from the stem to base. Remove the seeds and stringy bits with a spoon, and set aside. Place the pumpkin halves with the shell side up on a parchment lined baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 400?F and roast for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until tender. Once the pumpkin is cool to the touch, peel off the shell and slice the flesh into large chunks. Mash with a fork or blend in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Stow in the fridge if you plan on using it within the week. Otherwise, it will keep in the freezer for many months. You can use fresh pumpkin purée with any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin.
Pumpkin Purée Recipes
Now you can go ahead and use pumpkin purée to make pumpkin pie in time for Thanksgiving, but there are so many other tasty ways to use pumpkin flesh:
Marble Pumpkin Cheesecake – A decadent dessert, this sweet treat strikes a nice balance between cake and pie.
Pumpkin Soup – So rich and creamy, pumpkin soup is the perfect dish on cool autumn days.
Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal – Get your morning dose of pumpkin with this easy recipe, ready in just two minutes.
Spicy Pumpkin Hummus – Along with the usual hummus ingredients, add a ½ cup of pumpkin purée to the mix for a more nourishing dip.
Spiced Pumpkin-Pecan Pancakes – Made with warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves, pumpkin-pecan pancakes are a wonderful autumnal breakfast.
Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread – Made by the loaf or individual muffins, pumpkin bread is super moist with just the right amount of spice.
Pumpkin Butter – A vegan spread, pumpkin butter is made by heating up an assortment of apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, pumpkin purée, cinnamon, sea salt, and allspice.
Pumpkin Pie Dip – Served with green apple slices, graham crackers, and gingersnaps, a festive hors d’oeuvre for the holidays.
Pumpkin Gnocchi with Crème Fraîche-Sage Sauce – In lieu of potatoes, the gnocchi dough is made using pumpkin purée and ricotta cheese.
Pumpkin Fudge – A yummy alternative to chocolate.
Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream – Put your ice cream maker to good use by churning up some pumpkin pie ice cream, made with a custard of pumpkin purée, cinnamon, ginger, heavy cream, egg yolks, and brown sugar.
Pumpkin Purée Beauty Treatments
Good for the body, inside and out, pumpkin purée is a wonderful ingredient to add to your beauty treatments. Nourishing the skin with antioxidants and alpha hydroxy acids, pumpkin pulp softens, brightens, and prevents the signs of aging. Since pumpkin flesh contains zinc, it can help lessen oil production associated with acne, as well as speed up the healing process after breakouts.
Pumpkin Face Mask – Mix together 2 tablespoons pumpkin purée + ½ teaspoon organic honey + ½ teaspoon of milk. Apply all over face and wait 20 minutes before washing away.
Pumpkin-Sugar Body Scrub – For silky skin, combine 1 cup raw sugar + ½ cup of pumpkin purée + 1 teaspoon honey + 1 tablespoon almond oil and rub all over the body.
Pumpkin Body Moisturizer – Hydrating from head to toe, mix ½ cup pumpkin purée + ½ cup coconut oil + ½ teaspoon cinnamon.
Pumpkin Hair Conditioner – Excellent for rejuvenating dry hair, combine ½ cup pumpkin purée + ¼ cup yogurt + 2 tablespoons honey + 1 tablespoon coconut oil.
Pumpkin Lip Scrub – Exfoliate those chapped lips with this recipe: 2 tablespoon brown sugar + 1 tablespoon coconut oil + tablespoon pumpkin purée + freshly grated nutmeg (optional).
Like pumpkin flesh, pumpkin seeds offer a unique array of valuable nutrients like manganese, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, phosphorous, protein, and fiber. When making pumpkin purée, be sure to hang on to the seeds – not only are they delicious, they do the body good!
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds – This recipe is a snap: toss 1 ½ cups of whole pumpkin seeds in butter and salt and roast in the oven until golden brown.
Seasoned Pumpkin Seeds – Add some flair to your roasted pumpkin seeds! Click the link for pumpkin seeds seasoned 10 different ways – like jerk, wasabi and coriander, BBQ, and cinnamon-sugar.
Crunchy Peanut and Pumpkin Seed Brittle – A blend of dry roasted peanuts and pumpkin seeds, topped with a chocolate drizzle.
Although the bright orange rind of the pumpkin isn’t edible, you can still put it to good use in and around the home.
Pumpkin Planter – A lovely way to display your fall blooms, inside and out.
Pumpkin Bird Feeder – Ensure your feathered friends get their share of the harvest by crafting this adorable bird feeder – a half pumpkin shell filled with seeds.
Pumpkin Bowls – Elevate your hosting skills with baked pumpkin shells, a festive approach for serving soups, dips, and desserts.